What about the Cobra ZL Encore driver? Following up on the success of its Cobra ZL driver (reviewed separately on another page of this site), Cobra Golf has introduced this appropriately-named driver. The meaning of “Encore” in the name is fairly obvious, but the “ZL” is a bit more obscure. It stands for “Zero Limits.”
Thanks to the three face-angle settings the company’s Adjustable Flight Technology™ (“AFT”) enables, the original Cobra ZL is adjustable, and so is the Cobra ZL Encore driver. But this new club gives you a unique choice that the original ZL does not.
Do you want a fashionably formal all-white driver? Or would you prefer a sporty black-and-electrifying-yellow color combo? You can choose either color scheme with this driver.
Color choice isn’t what it’s all about, though. This is Cobra Golf’s top-shelf driver, and top-shelf Tour professional Ian Poulter has it in his bag. Its sophisticated multi-material composition (6-4 titanium body, milled, semi-forged titanium face, carbon fiber crown, carbon fiber sole, etc.) and advanced technology are intended to deliver outstanding performance. A swing weight screw positions the club’s center of gravity low and back, while also increasing the head’s Moment of Inertia (resistance to twisting). The improved feel, control, forgiveness and distance Cobra is claiming for this driver should make it outshine its successful predecessor.
The Cobra ZL Encore driver isn’t revolutionary in the sense of introducing brand-new technology. Think of it as being evolutionary – a refinement of the original Cobra ZL driver. In addition to the adjustability provided by AFT, the club offers more distance and forgiveness through its E9 Face Technology™ and “Dual Roll” face curvature. By expanding the sweet spot, this technology helps flushed shots fly farther and mishits go longer and straighter.
Cobra says this driver offers longer, straighter drives and better feel. That sounds good to me, but does the Cobra ZL Encore driver deliver?
These drivers are available in 8.5-, 9.5-, 10.5- and 11.5-degree lofts for righties, and 9.5- and 10.5-degree lofts for lefties. High-end, 55-gram Fujikura® Motore® F1 and F3 shafts are stock, no-upcharge shaft choices. Both versions come fitted with a Golf Pride® New Decade Multi-Compound 360 premium grip.
For my test club, I chose a 10.5 degree Cobra ZL Encore driver with a regular flex Fujikura® Motore® F3 shaft. The F3 plays a little softer than the F1, and it’s probably better suited to my game. Both shaft choices are extremely high quality.
I picked the all-white version of the ZL Encore – I’ve been testing a lot of TaylorMade clubs recently, so I’m used to looking at white drivers. Plus, the other version’s electric yellow on black seemed a bit garish to me (you may love it, however). As far as I know, Cobra is the only golf club maker that offers two different color schemes to choose from at no extra cost.
I set my test club to the neutral face setting. I have a slight natural draw (which I don’t want to lose) so I don’t need to set the face open to counteract a tendency to slice. I also don’t want a closed face angle, because I already draw the ball and a closed face could easily cause me to pull or hook. It’s easy to use the AFT’s adjustable hosel, though. Unlike more complicated systems, there are only three settings to choose from – 2 degrees open, neutral and 2 degrees closed.
I’ve tested (and reviewed) the original Cobra ZL driver, so comparing the performance of the newer Cobra ZL Encore driver with that of the original makes sense. I can sum up the results of my comparison pretty succinctly: the Cobra ZL Encore driver outperforms the original ZL in just about everything, but especially distance.
With the Cobra ZL Encore driver, carries averaged about five yards longer, and the ball flight was slightly higher. The newer club also feels lighter, and it cuts through the air almost effortlessly. I’m sure my swing speed was faster with it than with the original.
Accuracy was good – when I caught the sweet spot I usually striped it down the middle. The club also seemed a bit more forgiving than the original ZL. My mishits caused me to lose distance, of course, but the penalty just didn’t seem as severe. Shots off the heel and toe also seemed to fly a little straighter than they did with the original Cobra ZL driver.
The Bottom Line: The Cobra ZL Encore driver is a better club than its predecessor. The improvements are evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but they’re noticeable. And, in addition to giving you some additional yardage and forgiveness, this driver lets you pick your color. I’d say the ZL Encore is worth a test drive (pun intended) if you’re in the market for a new driver.